Jake Kellie, our Electrolux Australian Young Chef 2015 has joined The Lakeside Mill in Pakenham, just outside Melbourne. Due to open in mid February, Jake has been working hard over the last few months to get the kitchen team, equipment and menu ready. It’s been a busy 12 months for Jake, being named ‘Electrolux Australian Young Chef of the year’; announced as a finalist in The Age Young chef award and one of the delicious. next generation chefs. At just 26, this will be his second head chef role and we had a chat with him about his love of hospitality and why he joined the Lakeside.
Q: What drew you to The Lakeside Mill? What attracted me is the abundance of local produce available in the area. From great potato and asparagus farms to beef, pig and cheese producers all on my doorstop. Having these wonderful producers allows me to highlight their produce on the menu, feeding locals and visitors. There is also a great team to work with both in the kitchen and on the floor. The role I have at the Lakeside is a great move for me. This is my second head chef role, but my first in a regional area. It’s been great to be able to have a say in the kitchen build, sourcing the plates, kitchen equipment and hiring the entire brigade of 11 chefs. There is alot more responsibility on a broader scale with a venue that is going to be open 7 days for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But it’s something I’m really enjoying and we are looking forward to opening next month.
Q: What does hospitality mean to you? As I’ve grown in my career, so has the meaning of hospitality. It can start out as a job, but as your passion for your career grows and grows, your determination to succeed becomes a big part of it which in turn has given me the opportunity to create my own menu for people to enjoy. Hospitality to me means giving the customer an experience of your restaurant from the first moment they walk into the dining room to the time they walk out. It’s not only about the food, it’s the ability to go above and beyond their expectations.
Q: Who is you mentor and what was one piece of advice that you still use today? Brett Graham has inspired me a lot in my career. He taught me to treat all customers as a guest in your home, seasonal cooking including how to get the maximum flavour out of your vegetables; and great cooking techniques. Probably the best piece of advice that I still use today would be to taste everything so you know that it’s right. If it’s not dont serve it.
Q: What do you think has helped you most as a chef and what advice would you give to young chefs? What has helped me is focus and determination to succeed every day. But a big part for me are the teams I’ve had the pleasure of working with. Working with great people throughout my career has really influenced me and I wouldn’t be where I am now. If there was a small piece of advice I could say to young chefs starting out, or just completing their apprenticeship, it would be stay focused listen to your mentors and work with a good team because you can’t do it all by yourself.